by ALE AL ZADJALI
Nestled beautifully on the highway in Azaiba, the grand mosque has become the number one stop for visitors coming to Oman. The guests do not flock to this museum-like mosque for spiritual guidance only, but also to marvel at its inspired architecture that is an ode to Islamic architecture and to the heritage of Oman.
But, what makes the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque so grand? Quite literally, it’s the size. Seeing it from a distance is a sight to behold. It makes you wonder what it’s like from the inside. Getting through the walk from the main road drop-off point to the main entrance alone is fascinating. You find yourself admiring this concrete beauty and then you accidentally bump into someone else on the steps, because you are truly lost in the glory of this majestic building.
As I walked in, I was warmly welcomed and asked “Would you like someone to guide you?” I agreed and began my tour of the Grandest of Mosques.
I saw the main hall and made my way towards it, took off my shoes, and walked inside! I know everyone loves to talk about the Persian carpet and how it was stitched by 600 artisans into one big carpet, and that is absolutely incredible but, so is everything else. The details on the walls are stunning; there is the wonderful chandelier that’s made of Swarovski crystal and gold plated metals, a must-take photo opportunity for Instagramming once the tour is complete. And there is the equally beautiful and majestic female prayer hall, so often overlooked in other Mosques, but not here, where it is as equally splendid as its male counterpart and testament to both Islamic and Omani cultural values.
After touring the Grand Hall, I found myself just outside the two prayer halls with three sides to explore. The right side took me towards the library, which is state-of-the-art, and the pathway includes the entrance from the back, which shows you the grand fort-like pillars at the entrance that are larger than life and carved to perfection, just like the gate between them.
The left side took me to a resource centre where I sat down and got to learn more about the religion and culture of Islam, whilst getting a free kahwa (delicious Omani coffee) and dates to help me digest it all.
The centre took me to the ablution area that is wrapped around a fountain and set up in grand marble.
My favourite part of the Mosque was not necessarily the design or any specific location within the mosque, it was how it made me feel. The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque makes you feel special, it brings together many people from different backgrounds and whether they’re tourists or locals they are there for one reason and it is to see this magical place and to learn more about the peaceful religion of Islam.
Note: Tourists of all religions can visit the mosque every day, except Fridays, from 8.30 am until 11.00 am. Make sure to wear your most fashionable-yet-modest ensemble and, for the ladies, throw a shawl or hijab in the mix for that perfect modest look. Alternatively, you are welcome to borrow one of the abayas at the entrance.